The Checkup Fall Newsletter 2018 - Page 3

HeartMath ® comes to Fort McMurray Schools Connecting Hearts and Minds for Healthy Children in Healthy Schools The May 2016 wildfire that swept through our community left much trauma and destruction in its wake and a particular concern for everyone was the health and resilience of our most vulnerable population – our children. In late summer 2016, Alberta Health Services Wildfire Recovery representatives met with the Northern Lights Health Foundation to propose funding a comprehensive HeartMath program at all of the schools throughout the region. The HeartMath program is designed to ease fire anxiety and instill personal strength and resilience in our children and youth. Reducing anxiety and providing easy, flexible and age appropriate learning tools for children are proven outcomes of the HeartMath program. The goal is to help them understand the connection between their heart and mind resulting in better health and learning outcomes in schools. The project is large and bold, involving all three school boards in our region representing 34 schools from Conklin to Fort Chipewyan. AHS staff will facilitate Train-the-Trainer for key school representatives from the Fort McMurray Public School District, The Fort McMurray Separate School District and Northlands School Division and will enable the use of HeartMath tools and techniques for use by over 13,550 students. HeartMath is a program that was developed in 1991 and was first introduced to AHS in 2008. In the AHS health care setting, HeartMath is used for wellness and recovery from stroke, heart attack, addictions, mental health challenges and stress. The underlying premise is that there is a direct link between emotions, brain function and heart rhythms that can be measured and monitored by the individual who uses it to manage stress through deep breathing and generating positive emotions. The program is extremely effective and is in use throughout Alberta in both health care and school settings as a way to regulate emotional states to better handle stress and anxiety. With funding in place from our partners Cenovus, ConocoPhillips, Canadian Red Cross and Petro China Canada Ltd. the project was recently launched. These donors are making an impact that will be felt for years as our children develop skills for resiliency and self- management. THE NORTHERN LIGHTS HEALTH FOUNDATION 3